Public Relations 101: Silence Only Makes the Problem Worse
I got this email from the good folks at the conservative-leaning Media research Center yesterday: "Eric – In a conspiracy to tarnish the Vice President’s reputation, the liberal media is blowing this accident out of proportion. Some reporters are questioning whether the shooting was accidental, and the New York Times unearthed old, irrelevant incidents to further smear Cheney. The Media Research Center is tracking exactly how this bias is playing out as this story unfolds – more info at www.mrc.org."
Aside from revealing the astonishing manner in which partisans will serve as apologists for "their side," the MRC email also got the culprit wrong.
The ongoing controversy over Dick Cheney's hunting accident isn't hanging around because of a liberal-tilting media. It's because of the vice president himself, and his refusal to address the matter publicly.
Former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer is among those who said as much in an interview with Editor and Publisher magazine, noting what others have been saying for days -- that the vice president's office should have announced the incident Saturday night or Sunday morning.
It has been a little disconcerting to see Washington reporters acting astonished that the news was leaked to a small paper first -- just as it was disappointing to see the editor of the Corpus Christi newspaper try to turn one columnist's personal connection with the ranch owner into a major reportorial triumph. (Yes, it was cool that the ranch owner thought enough of the local paper to give them the scoop; but taking a cellphone call from a friendly source is hardly investigative journalism at its finest.)
Attempts to shrug this off as a tempest in a teapot have withered following shooting victim Harry Whittington's heart attack yesterday due to a piece of buckshot lodged in his heart -- a development the White House also sat on for hours.
Unfortunately for Dick Cheney, this incident reinforces a multitude of negative observations about his approach: that he is too secretive; that he has too much autonomy; that he doesn't care about the public's right to know; that he is callous; that he cannot deviate from a mistaken approach, even when it is clearly wrong.
Cheney is expected to sit down with one of the most friendly national press outlets available, Fox News Channel, at 2 p.m. today, for an interview to be aired throughout the day and during Brit Hume's 6 p.m. newscast. Expect lots of tapdancing and obfuscation from a politician who has shown he has a tough time admitting the limitations of his power in the smallest instances.
CHAPPELLE's Point of view: It's Hollywood That is Crazy
Those lucky enough to see the two-hour Inside the Actors' Studio featuring comic Dave Chapelle got an earful of the lanky firebrand's take on race, stand up comedy, showbusiness and the appeal of controlled substances.
Chapelle made headlines last year when he walked away from a $50 million contract with Comedy Central while filming the third season of his wildly popular Chappelle's Show series. Rumors flew that he was on drugs or crazy -- two theories which showbiz veteran Chappelle inexplicably found insulting and nonsensical (only in show business would a guy who walks away from $50 million be surprised when people call him crazy).
I've always felt Chappelle was a huge talent with an equally huge capacity for self-destruction. But he did make an interesting point
on that score Sunday, referring to mentor Martin Lawrence's well-publicized public meltdown.
"Lemme ask you this: what is happening in Hollywood that a guy that that tough will be on the street waving a gun, screaming 'They are trying to kill me?' What's going on? Why is Dave Chappelle going to Africa? Why does Mariah Carey make a $100-million deal and take her clothes off on (MTV)? A weak person cannot get here to sit and talk to you. Ain't no weak people talking to you. so what is happening in Hollywood?...These people are not crazy; they're strong people. Maybe the environment, is a little sick."
Wise words, even if they are coming from a guy trying to justify walking away from the biggest deal of his life.